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The Angel and The Silver Storm
The story picks up somewhere in the valleys of Montana, in a quaint little town where people walked around like little toy soldiers marching off to report the encounters of their day to their commanders. Now, of course, there was occasionally a little bit of conflict but for the most part the toy soldiers had smiles painted on their faces. It was the type of place where all the citizens in their 40s would walk around the quiet downtown with all its quaint little shops and reminisce about their own childhoods, wishing they had grown up in such a nice little town. And they would dream in their heads about how their own children would grow up to be such great people who would start a family in their own nice little town that they would be able to go visit from time to time… what a marvelous joy it must be! The kids, they juxtaposed their parents. They fought their way through childhood all for the chance to get out of this old town. But they weren’t bad kids, maybe just a bit naive. While united on that front, the kids of this town usually fell into one of two categories. The first were the ones who would grow up as their parents envisioned, and grow a family and end up in a nice little cottage by the sea. Some of them would have great jobs, some would be a little lazier, but in the end, their parents would be proud regardless. But there were also outsiders who wanted to do something outside the normal spectrum of occupations. And yes, their parents would still be proud, but they would try their best to keep their children away from their goal. Most kids get talked out going for these unfathomable career paths, which is probably for the best. Regardless, there is still that small percentage that takes their shot- they either end up on the front of Time magazine or in a city street looking for some spare change. The town our story takes place in, being a relatively normal town had mostly normal children with the exception of a few stubborn boys and girls who couldn't figure out what career they wanted to go into for the life of them and therefore decided to “get famous or something.” Naive, maybe, but you never know until you try.
With this context in mind, it is time to introduce our main character. 16, brown hair that had been dyed with the coming and going of phases but stayed brown for the time being, tall, thin, and didn’t smile too much. She was pretty smart and nice enough that she was likable. She was such a high achiever that some friends and acquittances joked she spent her spare time talking to angels. Because of this, she ended up becoming one of the stubborn children who had an equally stubborn dream. Her grand vision was unorthodox, to say the least- she wanted to get the highest education she could, get all the experience her brain could soak in- all to become a public attorney. She wanted to help defend people who didn’t have the money to hire a lawyer but had to go to court against people who did. Now, in theory, this all seems wonderful. Unfortunately, her parents weren't exactly won over with all her optimism. The girl hoped some miracle would come into her life and show her the way, guide her to her dream. And in the background, her parents cheered her on with gentle smiles but were waiting patiently for the day she snapped into reality.
Day after day she looked in the rusty mirror in her room on the ground floor of their ranch house and reflected on her life. Even she knew her grand vision was a stretch, but she pushed herself to the best of her ability and at the end of the day when the sun fell down she collapsed onto her bed which squeaked under her weight. It was comfortable though.
One particular evening, the girl had had a terribly exhausting day and it looked as though she was going to have an even more exhausting one tomorrow, so instead of immediately sitting down to start on her schoolwork she sat threw her bag down onto the carpet in her room and fell onto her bed. So many things were spinning through her head, which was not unusual, as she balanced deadlines for miscellaneous projects and papers.
But then, as if it were pure magic something truly unusual did happen. She stopped thinking about her schedule for a minute and started thinking about something else. She slowly gathered herself off of her bed and stared into the mirror. Why I am motivated to do this? The question tolled out in her head like an iron bell against a stormy sky. She stepped closer to the mirror and gazed inside. There was definitely a force that pushed her forward, pushed her to excellence, but what? It certainly didn’t come from within herself- if she had her way she would be on the couch watching the television. Waves of doubt washed over her. Had she chosen the wrong path, following this voice? She wasn’t a bad athlete either- maybe she should have focused on sports. But the voice just seemed so righteous, so undeniable. She was scared and insecure.
The clock on the wall struck a chord, alerting its owner to the time. 4:00 P.M. She looked up from the mirror and checked outside the window. There was nothing to look at, nothing to halt the inevitable atrocity of doing schoolwork. And before she could stop it, a tear fell from her eye. She was just a shell in the sea- a shell who was getting thrown up against the rocks by the brutal tide and being shattered into ugly little pieces. The girl wasn’t even necessarily sad- she just wanted to go to sleep. It had been a long week for her. But as she wiped her weary eyes she saw a little speck of dust right in from of the window. She tried to swipe at it but her hand passed in front of it. The speck was coming from outside. As she strained closer she noticed not just one but many, maybe thousands of specks of silver dust were gently floating down from the heavens and descending upon her lawn. It was snowing a silver storm. It looked quite pretty actually. The sunlight hit the snow and bounced off to display a brilliant rainbow (the light energy would also be reflected into the atmosphere where some of it would be trapped by greenhouse gases like carbon and methane. From here, it would create heat and help to keep earth’s temperature at a suitable range for life (if her time in Biology had taught her anything)). She sighed, opened up her actual biology textbook and got started on her dreaded schoolwork.
The clock had struck 5:30 by the time the girl put her pen down. And she still had much more to do, so many things that still lay between her and relaxation. She heard her father call her name from the living room along with some other mumbled words. She stumbled out of her chair to check on the noise. It ended up just being a simple request- “help me shovel a path through the snow so I can get to my car.” And so, despite the schoolwork she pleaded with her dad she needed to get back to, the girl was forced to grab a shovel for herself and fling open the door. Or at least that’s what she thought would happen when she grabbed the silver knob and twisted it to the right. Instead, the door didn’t budge. It took the combined efforts of the family to pop the door out, and the sight to be seen was something else.
Snow piled up layer by layer across the yard and ran across the street. It came all the way up to her neck- and she was relatively tall, too. She was a bit confused about where to start, so she experimented with different displacement methods before she decided that a top to bottom system was optimal for creating a path through such heavy snow. With her newfound knowledge, she started scooping snow, again and again and again, until she had made about a foot of progress. 20 minutes had passed. She was out of breath and had around 24 more feet to go if she wanted to hit the car. In her weariness she propped herself up against the wall of snow she was fighting and took a few breaths. She was so tired, in fact, that she didn’t even notice when her back started to cave into the wall, slowly but surely. The girl yawned. By the time she had opened her eyes again, her world had gone to black.
The girl was conscious and at the moment unhurt. She tried to move her head but she was stuck. Her breaths were shaky like a weak flagpole on a windy day. Internal panic started to set in. She was trapped in the snowbank, but her parents couldn’t be far away. She tried moving her hands above her body and digging through the snow. The attempt at the movement of her hands was successful, but she couldn’t feel anything above her, not even cold or the texture of snow. Screaming seemed to be futile, but the fact that she could breathe indicated she must be in some pocket deep within the snow. She took a deep breath and recollected herself to give a mighty cry, a plea for freedom. No response, but at least no snow had fallen into her mouth. She tried again. “HELLO?” “IS THERE ANYBODY IN HERE?”
“For a smart girl, you ask very stupid questions.”
The girl screamed again, louder than ever before. “W-what? Hello? Can you hear me? I need help! If you could just find my arm I thi-”
“I can’t help you in that way. But I think you will find me useful.” The voice was deep as a roll of thunder and vibrated through the snow like an emergency siren, a prelude to inevitable tragedy. It struck the girl’s heart with fear. But he was her only shot at survival, so she gave her plea another shot. “I’m trapped in the snow! If you can follow the sound of my voic-”
“Quiet. Now tell me about yourself. You seemed a little conflicted about where you want to be in the future, and I understand it. They put a lot of pressure on you at this age, don’t they?”
The girl’s heightened emotions were unleashed out onto the voice in the form of anger. “Quiet? Quiet?! That’s what you’re going to say to me? I’m about to freeze to death and you’re asking about my personal life? Why do you even care? Just rescue me!”
“Hmm. That’s not what I expected. I have some very unique talents and I think I could help you with your issues. If you just let me explain, we can be on our way.”
“Does one of your special talents include getting a shovel from the garage and saving my life?”
“No, and stop asking questions. In this current moment you only think of your physical well-being, but you must also see the importance in your mental well-being.”
The girl sighed- she was just frustrated at this point. “I think it is very clear to both of us that my physical well-being is vastly more important right now.”
The voice spoke in a different tone now. “I wonder if you will still feel this way after I show you something.”
The girl, very matter of factly, responded with: “Well, you have to get me out of the snow first before you show me anything.”
The voice just laughed. “Says who?”
“Have you tried getting up yet?”
“Of course I have! Do you think I would have not tried to get up off the grou-” Yet as she reached out her arms behind her she felt solid ground, just like a tile floor. She got on her knees and lifted herself up onto two feet with little effort. She was still in the complete dark, but she gazed around in awestruck bewilderment. “B-but how? Am I dead? Should I be happy or sad!?”
“Well, you’re definitely not dead. Whether you’ll be happy or not only time can tell.”
“Did you do this? Who are you?”
“My identity is irrelevant to you. And yes, I did have a hand in this. I told you I had special talents.”
The girl’s jaw was still dropped and her eyes still wide open as she moved about the snow. But was she even in the snow anymore? It just felt like a regular room. “What happens now?” She questioned.
“Did I not tell you to stop asking questions? You’ll have to wait and see.”
“Could your responses be any less helpful and informative? ” The insult was tangible, and it cut through the air like a knife. But mere moments after her backhanded comment the girl started to hear voices and sounds. Murmurs whisked through the air like hail in the wind. Feet started coming down on the floor as if a stampede of wild animals had just marched through the door, and the footsteps started to spread across the room. Voices got louder and became shrill screams that could not be understood. Slowly the sounds of cars and yelling and screeching and children complaining and long speeches and contradictions and rebuttals and angry grumbles and desperate pleas melded into one wicked sword; flashing strobes covered the darkness, an orchestra started playing a horribly discordant climax above the preexisting chaos that ended in one, final demand:
“ORDER IN THE COURT!” The lights flashed on.
The change in scenery was drastic. The lights were bright floodlights that hung high up on the ceiling of the grand courtroom. The ceiling itself was a giant stained glass window that displayed the banner of our country; the wooden walls that held it up were painstakingly carved with beautiful depictions of historical events and balances that symbolized the justice that governed the courthouse. The judge herself sat upon a platform of dark oak wood with a brilliant gold base elevated high above the cushioned benches that reached far back into the depths of the courthouse, where the girl was currently seated. Countless tired spectators watched with weary eyes, reporters rapidly jotted down notes and whispered little notes to their producers. A painful silence hovered over the air as the crowd anxiously sat in waiting for their next command.
“The court is adjourned!” With the crash of her gravel, the judge set her prisoners free. They scurried off to gossip about the case with their friends and neighbors. But the girl did not get up; instead, she squinted her eyes and tried to make out the judge in the center of the room. She had a slender build and a tall nose similar to the girl’s own. The judge covered her eyes with her palms and yawned, an action the girl herself had done many times whenever she was under stress. The girl felt for the judge- she knew what it was like to fight anxiety.
“Hey, voice man. Are you still there?”
“That judge- who is she?”
“It’s you in the future. I thought that would be obvious.”
“Oh, of course it is! How did I not realize?” The girl was usually much more respectful to strangers, but her emotions were running high and she didn’t have time for these half-hearted responses to serious questions. “Quit playing with me. Why am I here?”
“I tell the truth. Have you been able to explain everything that’s happened in your life today?”
“Then why should you have reason to doubt me? I have not lied to you yet.”
“I am not stopping you from going up and talking to the judge, you know. In fact, I strongly encourage you to do so.”
And so, as the last cameraman clumsily stumbled out of the silver gilded door the girl made her way down the courtroom floor, the room a whisper in the wind with the exception of the girl’s own hard footprints.
The judge looked up from her papers. “Do you have business with me? I cannot talk to you after the court has been adjourned, as it would be a violation of...” She meandered on for a little bit longer, but as she scanned the girl’s face it was clear she couldn’t understand half the words that flew out of her mouth. So the judge stopped talking and let the girl get in some words.
“This has nothing to do with the trial, ma’am. I promise. I’m just doing a school report on the judicial branch and I needed an interview so I was wondering if you would be available for it.” Quick thinking for such a young girl.
The judge stared down at the girl with eyes as blank as paper. She shook her head, to shake away the fatigue must have been feeling after a long day’s trial, such a pestilence to her efficiency. “I’d love to. I’m available right now if that is okay with you.” Given the number of papers that piled on top of her desk, she was clearly supposed to be doing work. Yet she still chose to talk to the girl; whether it was out of full-heartedness or laziness may never be known. So the girl pulled out a nice cushioned chair next to the judge’s lofty seat and quickly stole a reporter’s notebook that had been left on the benches so she could pretend to take notes.
“Well, your honor, what do you enjoy about being a judge?”
The judge quickly wondered what such a question had to do with the judicial branch but just as quickly decided that she didn’t really care. “Well, I originally wanted to be an attorney and I was one for a little while. But as sweet as it was to win a righteous case it was just as sorrowful to prosecute a man who had committed no crime. This sorrow drove me to become a judge, so I could finally view a trial with unbiased eyes. It’s truly a dream. To be a part of an operation that is fundamentally built to distribute fairness- it feels so fresh compared to other occupations, even though it has been in existence for much, much longer.”
The girl was in awe of the judge’s passion for justice- even just hearing those sentences clearly illustrated the women’s devotion. Such righteousness was usually only displayed in cinemas and novels; seeing it in the flesh was truly an experience to behold. But suddenly the girl drafted another question. “Has there been any… drawbacks to this career?”
Once again the judge marveled at how completely off-topic the questions were but figured it was more fun to get interviewed by a child than to do actual work. “Well, if there’s one regret I have it’s that I didn’t spend enough time with my family. I’ve been involved in a few big trials and they’ve really taken away from the time I have gotten to spend with them.” She paused for a second, hesitant about whether what she was going to say next would be of too much magnitude for a teenage girl. But for some reason, the judge felt she could trust this girl, almost like the two were connected somehow. So the judge continued. “My mother- she died about 5 years back. After I took the job I didn’t get to see her very much. I wish I had been able to.”
The righteousness that had filled the woman’s words earlier, when she had seemed so passionate and confident- it was gone. And nothing replaced it. Within her speech lay an empty void.
“I terribly sorry for your loss, ma’am.” The young girl’s words echoed through the courtroom.
“Thank you.” The judge was clearly shaken from recounting these experiences. “Did I tell you earlier that my biggest regret was not seeing my family? Erase that.” The girl took one of her hair elastics out and mimed using an eraser with it clutched in her hand. “That’s only a part of the truth. My real regret has to do with my mother. You see, when I got the news she had fallen ill I was in the most important trial of my life, and the government was involved too, so I couldn’t say no. So I waited in agony through those dreadful trial days and when it was all over I rushed to the hospital to see her.” She took a deep breath. Her voice trembled. “You see, they took my phone away for the trial, as it was highly confidential and it was a risk for me to have access to the internet. So I couldn’t see the numerous texts that had flooded my inbox; texts that vainly tried to inform me of my mother’s death. When I got the hospital all I got was a letter in a pretty pink envelope. My mother, she had written it to me the day before she died to say goodbye.” If the courthouse had been filled there wouldn’t have been a single dry eye in the stands. Instead, the girl and the judge both shared a tear that fell down their cheeks, a recognition of grief and a symbol of love. “I would give anything in the world to be able to write back to her.” For a moment all was still, and all the characteristics and differences that had defined the girl and the judge previously were gone and they were just two human souls looking at each other, sharing an unbearable burden.
The judge smiled a weak smile. “Sometimes it’s hard to tell blue skies from gray, isn’t it?”
The girl smiled back. “I don’t believe I asked your name.”
Once the judge spoke those last two words everything went black. The girl instantly felt nauseous as tears streamed down her face. She frantically ran around with her arms outstretched feeling for a landmark, something that would tell her where she was. But no matter how far she ran, she felt nothing. Gasping for breath, her voice rang out a heartbreaking inquiry. “Is it true?”
“...Yes. That was not an illusion. It was a vision into your future- everything you saw is truthful.”
“E-even about my mother?”
She cried out in pain for a woman who was not yet dead. “It has to happen that way? There’s nothing I can do?”
“Not exactly. I didn’t show you your future for nothing. I trust in you- now go out and find peace.” It was the last time that voice ever spoke.
The girl’s wailing temporarily subsided. But no matter what she did she couldn’t magically heal her mother, couldn’t make her live forever. So she cried out once again in the dark. And as she did she felt a numbness in her fingertips. Soon she felt severe leg cramps, and then it felt like her skull was imploding. She stopped crying in mourning and started screaming out in pain. She tried to move, but she was stuck in place. A huge weight suddenly hit her chest. She gasped and gasped but couldn’t get her breath back. Her throat started closing, and soon she couldn’t breathe. She closed her eyes shut and tried to give one last cry….
Light flooded in. She was still numb and in pain but she could see. A shaky outline of two men with funny ren hats that shined in the sun came through to her eyes from where she lay. They grabbed the girl’s arms and pulled her up. She glanced back to see snow falling off of her body. So she had been trapped in the snow that whole time! But was it all just a hallucination? The red people took her and dragged her across a little green path with a white blob around it that must have been snow. Her vision was still very shaky, and her pain still very real. She squinted forward. It looked like they were taking her into a big red square with flashing lights. They took her around to the back of the square, put her on a very uncomfortable bed and lifted her up into the back. They closed the square back up and it started to move. The inside of the square was all silver like the graphite in a pencil- at least that’s all the girl could make of it. To her right, a voice started speaking.
“Everything’s going to be okay, honey.” The voice was unmistakably that of the girl’s mother. The girl felt her heart drop. She started coughing quite forcefully. “It’s okay!- just try to rest a little, okay?” A tear fell down the girl’s cheek. To think of everything her mother had done for her, think about how much she loved her mother, and to think of losing it all. A second tear fell out of the girl’s left eye. “Why are you crying? Is something upsetting you? It’s all going to be okay, honey, I can promise you.”
“Mother.” The voice was little more than a hoarse whisper, and the girl’s mother had to strain to hear it. “I just h-have one r-equest for you.” Her sentence was broken up by various coughing fits.
The mother’s loving instincts kicked in. “Honey! Please don’t talk like that- you can tell me whatever you want later, but there’s no need to make requests right now! You’re going to be fine! Please, promise me you won’t worry! Please? I’ll tell you what, once you’re all better we can go to that park up north with all the pretty wildflowers that you always thought were so beautiful. They’re just like you, honey. Beautiful and wonderful and perfect. So please just don’t worry!” The woman was on the verge of crying. It hurt her so much to see her daughter in pain like this- truly a terrible scene. “Honey, I’ll always be with you so please if you EVER need anything just tell me and I can give it to you and everything will be fine and-”
“Never let me go.”